INTERVIEW

We met Mikal Cronin and let him do the talking about Ty Segall, San Fransisco and honesty

mikal-cronin

Mikal Cronin on Festivals
“It’s like any show; it can be great or it can be awful. As a spectator they are really overwhelming to me, I’ve avoided them in the States. I have just been to one festival when I wasn’t playing and that was when I was like 12. We’ve just played Green Man and it was fun, we were one of the opening bands. I always heard that it was knee-deep mud but it didn’t rain or anything so it was beautiful out there. The great thing about festivals is that you get to see cool bands, like in the last week I’ve been to Pukkelpop and I saw Eminen and at Lowlands festival I saw Slayer and Nine Inch Nails.”

… San Francisco
“I do miss home a lot. Being on the road is really fun but it’s so exhausting. Not much sleep and travelling all the time is hard. I’ve been in San Francisco for two years now so it finally feels like home. As soon as I moved there I was still touring a lot so it’s taken me a while to discover the city. I live in the Mission and by this point I have a lot of friends around me there, which is cool. There is a lot of great Mexican food there; in fact there is a lot of good food in general. I have noticed just being around so many creative musicians and hardworking people has made a difference in me. There are a lot of great bands there who all work really, really hard, so in that sense it’s inspiring living there and it pushes me a little harder. We will see how it changes my music, the city feels busy and more constricted and everyone is living on top of each other so maybe that might have added to some of the anxiety in my music – I don’t know, there is plenty of anxiety in there already.”

… honesty
“It was kind of my mission statement from the beginning; I had to be as direct and open and try not to filter myself at all. The first instinct of songwriting for me is to find what I am going through and try to put it into words; it’s probably what everyone does though really. I feel like the first and second records are definitely similar but maybe by the second one I am trying to expand and define the more universal aspect of the way I am personally feeling. So I am very honest but I try to take a step back for a second and see what my friends or what other people are going through and try to write about that. It’s therapeutic in a way – you’re not alone.”

… the next album
“It’s definitely not a closed book. I’m still feeling my way through the emotions that made up both of my last records, there is a lot to figure out. I am not sure what the next record will be like. So far it’s been autobiographical in the sense that it feels like two chapters of the same book, so if I continue to write like that it’ll be a continuation of that book. I am trying to figure out if I can go with a different concept or a different approach to the record. I’d kick myself if I talked about all of my ideas too early and then couldn’t do it! All I know is that I want it to be way better than the last two records and I have thoughts of expanding the sound and direction. I’d be really excited to try a bigger project in that sense, something that’s very new.”

… being a one man band
“That’s what comes naturally to me. I am definitely not the best at every instrument though. I can think of, say, ten people in my close friends who are better at these instruments, but I just find it a little easier to quickly transfer my thoughts and that’s how I have always recorded. On the record I played most of the drums, most of all the guitars, the bass, the piano, the saxophone, other keyboard instruments. I pretty much played everything except for the strings. My friend Dylan, she played those; I wrote the parts and she played them. That’s something I wish I could do, I wish I could play the cello or any string instruments, I tried and it sounds awful.”

… graduating
“I am proud that I stuck through school as I dropped out and went back and dropped out and went back so many times. I am sure my parents are happy that I finished it. I studied everything before figuring out that music was the thing that I am most passionate about. I realised if I could study music then I would have a much easier time at school as it’s something I can do. I was at the California Institute of the Arts near LA. They do a lot of experimental music and a lot of really talented people go there and they are always onto the next thing – new music, new composers. It’s basically like the John Cage School of music; all the professors collaborated with him. I wasn’t the best student, I was mostly just silent and listening, I didn’t show a lot of work. I was thinking about sending a record to one of the old professors… maybe someday.”

… Ty Segall
“Yeah, he played a couple of guitar songs on the new album. My first band was with him, so we’ve been playing music together forever with a handful of other people. We’re from the same hometown and we all actively play music. I still play in his band but they’re taking a little break and he’s working on other stuff. This year has been weird as he moved down to LA and I am in San Francisco so I haven’t seen him as much as I’d like to, so we are going to start playing a lot more together soon. We met in high school; I think we were 16 or 17. I knew him as a kid, he was hanging out with the punk kids and playing a little music and I was out with the dork or the nerd kids and our two groups started mingling a lot. He knew I played the saxophone so he asked me to play the saxophone in this dancey band he had. It’s not a really romantic story or anything, he just asked me to play and I said, ‘yeah, I’ll play with you dude.’”

… self-improvement
“I am happy with how the new record sounds but I think I can do a lot better and that’s what I am going to try and do next. I always think I can do a lot better, which is a good attitude to have I think. I took more risks that paid off with the second record; it was hard and the whole thing was very frustrating as well as very fulfilling. Maybe the basis of songs are a little easier to come up with now but I really want to keep pushing myself to make it as difficult as possible in order to make it as satisfying for myself as possible. I am really interested in very heavily arranged orchestrated music, like pop songs but making it really heavy and intense at the same time. I want to make my music really thick, you know?”

… songwriting
“I need to spend time with it; I need to struggle and overcome my problems and I guess that’s part of my process, it would be a lot more pleasant if it was easy. The music comes so much easier for me for sure, the hardest part is the lyrics and that’s usually last, I come up with the basic chords and hum the melody and then the lyrics will come in pieces very slowly and that’s really hard for me. I need to lock myself somewhere and I can only really show someone at the very end, like, ‘I’ve worked on this so hard I have no idea if it’s terrible or great… you need to tell me.’ It’s a weird process but I love it and I can’t wait to start it again.”

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